An Australian startup called HB11, born at the University of New South Wales, claims to have given a revolutionary twist to nuclear fusion. The method applied to this technology could pave the way for a new energy era – without any risk of nuclear disaster.
“We have managed to avoid all the scientific obstacles that have kept fusion energy at bay for half a century,” said Warren McKenzie, director of HB11, in the middle New atlas.
Fusion energy, as the name suggests, takes advantage of the energy released when an atomic nucleus merges; unlike fission, which consists in the process of separation of the nucleus to generate electrical energy.
The merger has been the “Holy Grail” of energy production for decades, but scientists have not yet managed to create a reaction that releases more energy than what it requires to function – although They are getting closer-.
If all this sounds too good, it should be noted that the new claim by Australian scientists has already generated controversy. This was evidenced a few days ago when a published press report on the site of the University of New South Wales it was downloaded, leaving only a backup copy – in a separate blog – that still seems be online At the time we wrote this news. The University has not yet responded to the specialized press about why it removed the material from its site.
The backup makes extraordinary claims. He says that HB11 has found a new way to deal with current fusion energy, and that it does not require extremely high temperature or pressure levels to function. In addition, it would be a simpler and cheaper technique than those used so far.
According to what is read in the blog, the new technique depends on hydrogen and the B-11 boron isotope – instead of rare and expensive radioactive isotopes such as tritium – and uses a series of special lasers to start the reaction.
“Within an empty metal sphere, HB-11 isotope pellets are fired with the help of two lasers, to unleash a chain reaction,” says the startup blog.
“It could be said that we use hydrogen as a dart, hoping to hit some boron, and in doing so, we can initiate a fusion reaction,” McKenzie explains. “Creating fusion using temperature is essentially moving atoms with the hope that they collide with each other, but our method is more precise.”
The process even skips the need for a heat exchange or steam generating turbine, being able to feed an electric flow “almost directly on the existing electric grid.”
No nuclear waste, no steam, and zero chance of a nuclear accident. The truth, it sounds too good to be true and the startup still has a long way to prove the effectiveness of its method. The project leader himself has admitted that he still does not know when the idea can become a commercial reality.
“I don’t want to be the laughing stock by promising that we can achieve something in less than a decade, and then not deliver,” McKenzie concluded.